Morning Brief: Welcome to the bear market

Top Story Spencer Platt/Getty Images Oil hit a record $144 a barrel Wednesday, sending markets plunging once again. The Dow Jones industrial average fell some 166 points, or 1.5 percent. Since October 9, the index has fallen 20 percent, the common definition of a bear market. The S&P 500 lost 23 points, or 1.8 percent, ...

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594264_080703_pit25.jpg

Top Story

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Oil hit a record $144 a barrel Wednesday, sending markets plunging once again. The Dow Jones industrial average fell some 166 points, or 1.5 percent. Since October 9, the index has fallen 20 percent, the common definition of a bear market. The S&P 500 lost 23 points, or 1.8 percent, and the Nasdaq dropped 53 points, or 2.3 percent. A global sell-off followed Thursday, and Brent crude is now trading at $146 in London.

Top Story

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Oil hit a record $144 a barrel Wednesday, sending markets plunging once again. The Dow Jones industrial average fell some 166 points, or 1.5 percent. Since October 9, the index has fallen 20 percent, the common definition of a bear market. The S&P 500 lost 23 points, or 1.8 percent, and the Nasdaq dropped 53 points, or 2.3 percent. A global sell-off followed Thursday, and Brent crude is now trading at $146 in London.

Meanwhile, is General Motors headed for bankruptcy? The automaker’s share price has fallen below $10 to reach its lowest level in 54 years.

Middle East and Africa

“Opening up a third front right now would be extremely stressful for us,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen told reporters Wednesday, referring to the prospect of conflict with Iran.

U.S. President George W. Bush is calling on Congress and foreign countries to uphold their commitments on HIV/AIDS and African aid.

Turkey’s ruling party, represented in court by the deputy prime minister, denied that it aims to impose Islamic law on the secular country.

Zambia’s president has died. [UPDATE: False alarm. He’s in intensive care.]

Asia

China is trying to crack down on “hot money” entering the country by strengthening capital controls.

Direct flights between mainland China and Taiwan begin Friday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has become persona non grata in Beijing.

Europe

The United States has reached a tentative missile-shield agreement with Poland, provoking howls of outrage in Moscow.

In an interview with the New York Times, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sounded a lot like you-know-who.

The European Central Bank raised interest rates to 4.25 percent in a bid to tame rising inflation.

Americas

High gas prices are doing for New York what congestion prices were intended to do.

Mexico’s deputy foreign minister complains that the G-8 isn’t being inclusive enough.

Global Economy

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that inflation is the “number one focus” right now in much of the world, but the United States is more concerned about slowing growth.

Decision ’08

John McCain went to Latin America but the headlines are all about how he shook up his campaign staff.

Today’s Agenda

Indian political parties are meeting to decide the fate of the U.S.-India nuclear agreement.

Colombian ex-hostage Ingrid Betancourt is heading to France for a tête-à-tête with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

President Bush is to speak at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesa, Maryland.

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